Review: The Shining Path – The Shining Path (Holy Mountain, 2007)

I already got used to the fact that when I want some seriously off-the-hook, brain-frying psychedelic music, Holy Mountain Records will never fail to cater to my needs. Be it Mammatus, OM, Lichens, Residual Echoes, Wooden Shjips or James Ferraro, this label are the ones who really know their shit. And they can really keep it trippy – like hardcore trippy. The duo of Ilya Monosov and Preston Swirnoff, accompanied on this album by Brandon Relf on drums, fits the definition of hardcore psychedelia perfectly.

The very first track, “I Think I Am Becoming God” leaves no illusions about the intention of these guys; this is no happy-go-lucky hippie psych, this is no Sunday drive in a station wagon to the nearest meadow or woods. This is purely no-limits, pedal-to-the-metal, wailing-V8, burning-rubber, rough and tough lysergic guitar destruction hailing back to the “take no prisoners”, absolutely devouring jams of such heavyweights as Mainliner, Fushitsusha or Gravitar. Except a little more krautrocky – while Monosov’s guitar skill is reminiscent of Keiji Haino hyperkinetic improvisations, Relf’s relentless drumming sounds like a crossover between Chris Corsano and Klaus Dinger after ingesting too many amphetamines.

The nearly unbearable, Suicide-like tension of “Hadliku Ner” is created by echoed moans and scraps of words set against madly pulsing synthesizer, accompanied by muted, yet always noticeable, snakelike drumming and fuzzy guitar solos, never exploding, never getting out of the brutal restraints of the all-powerful, bassy synth sequences. The whole tension is relieved on “Moroccan Summer”, the most “shapeless” track on the LP, which touches the pure improv area, with drum rolls fighting duels with tortured guitar noodling and the synth creating monumental, droning bass hooks. The finishing piece, nearly 11 minute long epic “The Day When He Himself Shall Wipe Away My Tears” sounds like the more murky, industrialized version of Psychic Paramount’s “Gamelan Into the Mink Supernatural”. Almost painfully delayed and reverbed guitar tries to keep up with hypnotizing, stupefying synthesizer repetitions. The maniacal and (probably) heavily delayed drumming doesn’t help in finding the way out of this labirynth of sounds.

The Shining Path’s debut LP is definitely not easy listening. It’s not a record you’d spin during a bike trip to the forest or while sitting with your girlfriend/boyfriend at the lake during a sunny summer day. Rather, it’s a record you’d spin in a dark, sound-proof room with stroboscope lights and dayglo paint added for further sensory overload, getting ready to FUCKING SMASH THINGS. Not for the weak of the heart, but once you get into the fog, brutal enlightenment awaits.

Copies of the LP are still available on the Holy Mountain website. Grab ‘em!!!

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